Seed preservation is vital for a sustainable food system
“Our seeds are more than just food for us. Yes, they are nutrition. But they’re also… spirituality,” says Electa Hare-RedCorn, a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and a Yankton descendant. “Each seed has a story and each seed has a prayer.”
With a background in social work, Hare-RedCorn was brought on to the Pawnee Seed Preservation Project in 2012 as a seed-keeper, to carry the conversation forward with youth and families. The project, she says, has become a movement.
“Being tied to the seed work has helped me see that traditional ecological knowledge — the understanding of our connection to the soil, seeds and our culture — it’s all intrinsically tied together,” Hare-RedCorn says. “Even if policy has definitely tried to strip that away, we still have a unique relationship with the seeds and what they mean to us.”
Hare-RedCorn fondly recalled when one particular intern joined the Pawnee Seed Preservation Project in 2016. Hare-RedCorn explained to her that everybody is a part of agriculture and the food system in some way — we consume food; we grow food; we wear clothing from fibers; we prepare food for others. And then she asked the incoming intern: “How, at this moment, are you part of this?” to which the intern replied, “Well, I eat.”
“Even if policy has definitely tried to strip that away, we still have a unique relationship with the seeds and what they mean to us.”